On Monday the 24th of September 2012 another heavy metal tour came to the Howard Theatre in Washington DC. This time the show was headlined by Morbid Angel, one of the most famous bands from the legendary Tampa, Florida death metal scene. The first band to play was VadimVon, a South Carolina based death metal band, however I wasn’t able to get there in time to see them. The first band I saw perform was Grave, one of the old school Swedish death metal bands. Before Swedish metal became associated with bands like At The Gates, In Flames and Soilwork there was a death metal scene there that rivaled the one in Tampa at the time. It was led by bands like Entombed, Hypocrisy, Unleashed and Dismember. Grave is one of the few bands from that scene that is not only still around but has also stayed true to their sound. The only member of Grave that is left from those days is vocalist/guitarist Ola Lindgren and he showed the audience at the Howard Theatre that he’s still got it. The band put on a good show with a set list (photo of it here) that showed a pretty good history of the band, considering the time they had to play, as well as featuring a few songs of their latest album, Endless Procession of Souls. They got the pit really going on a few songs and hell, it was great to hear a set full of old school Swedish death metal! You just don’t get a chance to hear that very often any more. The next band up was another Swedish band, though this time of the black metal variety. Dark Funeral has gone through some line up changes since they last toured the US, most notably replacing their vocalist of 15 years, Emperor Magus Caligula. This was their first area appearance with the new vocalist, Nachtgarm, who is also the front man of the German black metal band Negator. While I wouldn’t say he was bad he certainly didn’t live up to the showmanship that Caligula had when on stage with the band. Dark Funeral has always been very apt at maintaining their image, everyone in the band comes out dressed like corpse painted orcs from Lord Of The Rings, complete with leather armor. Well, everyone except Nachtgarm that is, who was wearing one of those Shagrath style black metal dresses and looked more like he fit in a Behemoth video than with Dark Funeral on stage. Dark Funeral has never been the most original black metal band. Their sound is pretty typical of the genre and never really pushed any boundaries, though they do have a few rather stand out songs. The stage show has always helped to keep them from blending in with every other black metal band out there and I guess the new vocalist seemed to just detract from that. Again he wasn’t awful, he just didn’t seem to fit Dark Funeral that well. Perhaps after they record an album with him and he is performing some of his own material live he’ll have a better chemistry with them. Still, the band plays fast paced music and their closing song, My Funeral, got me pumped and ready for the headliner, Morbid Angel.
Aside from this year’s headlining appearance at Maryland Deathfest, Morbid Angel hasn’t played in the area since their show at Jaxx/Empire in April 2006 when they were first touring again because David Vincent had rejoined the band. Since that show they have only put out one album, last year’s dreadful Illud Divinum Insanus which was not only critically panned but also stained Morbid Angel’s reputation among fans. I had just seen another one of the big names from the Tampa scene, Obituary, play at Empire two weeks earlier (my review of that show is here) and they put on a lackluster performance so I was hoping Morbid Angel wouldn’t follow suit. Morbid Angel didn’t disappoint. They put on a brutal show playing many of their older classics. Their set list (photo of it here) had a lot of songs from their album Covenant, with most of the other songs being spread throughout the David Vincent era of the band. They did play one song, Bil Ur-Sag, from the album Formulas Fatal To The Flesh, an album David Vincent was not on. I’ve never seen them play a song with him before that wasn’t from his time with the band, so that was pretty cool actually. Trey Azagthoth did his thing on the side of the stage cranking out classic riffs and wild solos with his trademark long hair obscuring his face the entire show. While Morbid Angel played two songs from their most recent album they were at least two of the more “metal” songs from it. Tim Yeung did a good job behind the kit and Destructhor, playing rhythm guitar (but still had some solos) did a fine job as well, but really the main focus on stage was David Vincent. Morbid Angel is definitely a better band with him fronting them. Between two songs he did mention how he hated DC as it represented everything he hated about the way the world is run, but assured the audience this wasn’t any fault of our own. Definitely not the usual audience ass kissing you hear a front man blabber about whatever town he is in. In all it was really fun to see one of the legendary bands of death metal put on a killer show. My main gripe was that they didn’t play much from either Blessed Are The Sick or Domination but did play my two favorite songs of theirs, Maze Of Torment and Chapel Of Ghouls, and I’ve posted the videos I shot at the show of each song below. Well I hope you enjoyed reading this, now check out the pictures and videos I shot of the bands playing. Be sure to get your ass out to some of the awesome upcoming metal shows going on in the area and help to support the scene you’re a part of!
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